A teenager has admitted plotting a bomb attack in London, having researched potential targets including Buckingham Palace and an Elton John concert. Haroon Syed, 19, who pleaded guilty on Thursday at the Old Bailey, was “researching, planning and attempting to source” materials for homemade explosive devices for use in the UK.
The court heard how Syed tried to get weapons online, including a bomb vest or explosives, and trawled the web to find a busy area in the capital such as Oxford Circus to launch a mass casualty attack.
Syed was caught chatting online with officers from the British Security Service, who posed as a fellow extremist who could help him source the weapons.
The defendant, from Hounslow in west London, will be sentenced at a later date. He pleaded guilty to a plot running from April to September 2016 to get materials for a bomb to stage attacks. The judge, Michael Topolski, warned Syed this was “a grave offence, and he would consider if a life sentence was merited”.
Syed’s brother, Nadir Syed, 24, was last year convicted and jailed for life for plotting to behead a poppy-seller or police community support officer on Remembrance Sunday.
In legal papers prepared for his defence, Syed was described as "highly vulnerable due to family history, lack of education, addiction to violent online games and the arrest and imprisonment of his brother."
According to his defence, he was groomed by radicals online but he never intended to carry out an attack. His lawyer Mark Summers QC argued he should have been given help by the Prevent de-radicalisation group rather than steered in the opposite direction.
He said: "The proper response of the State should have been to engage Prevent to help this young man, to steer him away from the path it was feared he was going down, rather than guiding him down it."